When roll is called for Professional Golfers, most people think of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and a host of others with “Green Jackets.” Brian Davis usually doesn’t make the list, and reasonably so. He hasn’t won a PGA Tour event, but on April 18th at the Verizon Heritage, Davis made a 30 foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff against Jim Furyk. On the first hole of the playoff, Davis hit his second shot in the sand trap left of the 18th green. When he was about to take his third shot out of the trap, Davis struck a loose weed in his back swing. You might say, “What’s the big deal?” Well, according to USGA (United States Golf Association) rules, if a player hits a loose impediment (weed, stick, etc.) in his backswing, it’s an automatic two stroke penalty! A two stroke penalty is devastating for a professional golfer, but for Davis fighting in a playoff for his FIRST PGA win, it was absolute death! The two stroke penalty cost Davis the tournament, but even more costly, his life’s dream!
It was an unfortunate incident, but what makes this story so powerful? Davis CALLED THE PENALTY ON HIMSELF! As soon as he finished his third shot, he motioned for a tournament official. Davis confessed that he might have struck the weed in his backswing. Tournament play was stopped for several minutes. The cameras zoomed in on the backswing and reviewed it many times. Sure enough, his club grazed the weed in the backswing. Only the most powerful camera footage caught the rule violation. He could have gotten away with it, and he possibly could have won the tournament by making his next putt, but Davis paid a fabulous tribute to the game of golf. Played correctly, golf is one of the most honorable things on earth. In golf, there is nothing more important than honesty! That’s what makes the game so great!
I am unaware of Brian Davis’ spiritual life, but I am aware that his honesty teaches Christians a priceless lesson. I hope that when we stand in the “sand traps” of our lives, we play by the rules. And even when we break the rules, I hope we have the honesty to admit our mistakes! We might think we can get away it! But remember, there is someone watching whose vision is much more powerful than a high powered camera lens! He knows every hair on our head, and “…through him all things were made.” (John 1:3) If we “strike the weed”, He will know!